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Who doesn’t like going in to public restrooms because of all the germs in there! If you’re like me you probably avoid touching the handles of the stall door, use a paper towel to turn on the faucet and maybe even flush the toilet with your foot. But although public bathrooms seem like the worst place, there are many other “spots” to watch out for! Especially this time of year, when we are all closed up due to the cold temperatures, this is when the little buggers are out in full force!
Although this is cause for concern, we shouldn’t run around with our hands in the air about germs! Don’t forget, we are fairly protected if we have a good immune system and wash our hands often. Just the same, they still get us and below are just some of the places where we need to protect ourselves. Before I bring up my list of some of the germiest places to watch out for, here are some facts about germs.
What is a germ and how long do germs stay on surfaces?
Germs may be a virus or a type of bacteria and how long they survive depends on what kind of germ they are. According to the CDC, influenza viruses may live on a surface for 2 to 8 hours. One site interviewed infectious disease specialist Dr. Don Goldmann of Children’s Hospital, Boston who said that cold viruses may live nearly 6 hours.
Names of some of the germs and bacteria you may find
Just in public restrooms you can find a multitude of viruses and bacteria. They are especially prevalent around the sinks because they thrive on the moist environment. Some of the most common ones you’ll find in public places are: streptococcus, hepatitis A virus, E. coli, cold virus, staphylococcus, along with some common sexually transmitted organisms. Not only can these viruses and bacteria be found in public bathrooms, but also on many other public surfaces that you need to watch out for!
How do cold viruses get in to us?
Bacteria and viruses usually take a free ride from our hands to our nose, eyes or mouth. So, the best way to prevent them from entering our body is to always make sure that if you happen to touch the germy surfaces, not to rub your eyes, nose, or touch your mouth.
Of course, another way germs are transported and make it in to your body is when you breathe air that contains moist drops from a sneeze or cough. This is how most flu viruses are easily spread.
List of Germiest Places:
1. Public Rest Rooms
Are toilet seats germy? Not as bad as you would think. It may not make sense, but the toilet is not the worst place for germs. According to WebMD, germs have to move directly from the toilet seat to the genital track or urethral track, or from a “thigh and buttocks” cut and this is not very likely. Watch out for the flush though, when you do, don’t linger in the stall, germs take off, flying in the air! Don’t forget to cover that toothbrush at home when you flush.
2. Cell Phone
Next time you use your cell phone, remember that cell phones contain more that 10x the amount of bacteria on toilet seats!
Hardly anyone ever cleans their cellphone, which is why it is one of the germiest places.
3. Bottom of Shoes
One test found over 66 million organisms on the bottom of a typical woman’s shoe! These organisms and bacteria are a concern because they can lead to causing infections in areas such as your stomach or lungs.
When you wear your shoes around your house these bacteria and organisms get transferred on to your floors and particles get released into the air. To minimize your exposure to these pathogens make sure to always remove your shoes at the door.
4. Pillow Cases
Every night you put your head down on your pillow case, a hotspot for bacteria, dust mites, mold and other harmful microbes; and it adds to the problem, if you go to bed with wet hair or sweat in bed, a perfect environment for mold. Your dead skin, oils and other products make a perfect breeding ground these organisms and pathogens . In your pillow, dust mites chow down on dead skin and bacteria. They leave behind their feces, eggs and even their legs! The longer you go without washing your pillowcase and the older your pillow, the worse it is. It is best to wash your pillow case at least every week and every day if possible, especially for people with allergies.
5. Computer Keyboard and Mouse
Do you know who uses your computer?
Your office computer is not so innocent, especially if people share it often. So if you’re looking for someone to blame for your cold, you may not have to look very far. This is one place that isn’t cleaned enough to keep germs to a minimum. Did you know that in 2007 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a mouse and keyboard in a first grade classroom had harbored the virus linked to the stomach flu causing an outbreak of that illness?
How do you clean it? Unplug and wipe down with a lint-free cloth, slightly damp with sterile water (boiled water for 20 minutes is not totally sterile but fine for this use). Next, turn upside down and shake to get rid of debris in between the keys. It’s a good idea to clean the keyboard after someone else has used it.
6. ATM/Gas Pump Handles
A study by Kimberly-Clark stated that 41% of ATM buttons and 71% of gas pump handles were highly contaminated. Whenever I use an ATM or pump gas I try to use my gloves. Another good option is to use a sleeve glove, remember the movie “Bad Bosses”, great idea!
7. Door Handles
Don’t forget door handles, they offer a large surface for germs and they are used continually in some places so the number of people who use it may be extremely high making it a high risk for numerous germs.
8. Shopping Carts
Everyone knows that shopping carts are notorious for harboring germs and other pathogens. Even the food store tries to help by supplying disinfecting wipes for customers. A study even found that 72 % of shopping carts had coliform bacteria, which suggests fecal material may be present. One of the reasons for the high germ counts is that children often sit in the carts. Although children can put many germs there, we do spend most of the time gripping the handle as we shop, increasing our exposure.
9. Doctor’s Offices – Instruments and Magazines
Next time you go to the doctor you may want to ask him to wipe his stethoscope before he uses it on you to check your heart. A study found it’s possible that MRSA can live on doctor’s ties and stethocopes for a short time.
While you’re waiting in the doctors, you also may want to avoid the magazines in there as germs can live on paper. In Germany researchers found that 4 kinds of bacteria (such as E.coli and staph) survived on paper was still present after three days!
More Germiest Places:
10. Pens Used by the Public
12. Toothbrushes Left Near/or in the same room as the Toilet
13. TV Remote
14. Handbags Left on the Floor
15. Keys (although keys made of brass offer some protection because it’s naturally antibacterial)
16. Kitchen Sponges
17. Cutting Boards for Meats
18. Yoga Mats
19. School Desks
20. Vending Machines
Do you try to avoid some of these germiest places?